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Three Dirges and Two Dances


An instrumental suite of five traditional Irish melodies: Lament for Owen Roe O'Neill - The dirge of Ossian -
 Deirdre's Lament - The Paisteen Fionn - The Merry Old Woman. The piece begins with a brief introduction based on two melodies preserved in Redfern Mason's The Song Lore of Ireland (1911), the first a set of tritones built on a sequence of notes which was reported to W. B. Yeats as representing the Banshee's Cry, the second a very old  wordless Keen. Deirdre's Lament is traditionally considered the lament which Deirdre sang over her treacherously slain lover Naoise, The Paisteen Fionn (The Fair-Haired Young Girl) is well known, while The Merry Old Woman is little known today, though there are some recordings of it extant.

Performance Note: One percussion player is required, playing Bass Drum, Tambourine, Chimes, and Cymbal. A bodhran, played ad lib., may be substituted for tambourine. The measures marked G.P. may be held ad lib.

I'd welcome any comments, especially from performers, even if a long time has passed since this was posted.  Particularly helpful would be comments on the use of slurs and dynamics.

The sound file was created with software as a demo.

Score and sound file available at:

Musescore Three Dirges and Two Dances


YouTube Three Dirges and Two Dances

Sound file only at:

SoundCloud Three Dirges and Two Dances


Please note that while this composition is based on traditional melodies in the public domain,
this adaptation of them is an original creative work under copyright.

For performance or recording permission, please see my permissions page.

Image: Peasant Funeral in the Mam Turk Mountains of Connemara, Ireland. Ha...

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